While the space shuttle Columbia is scheduled for launch on Thursday, it’s the -next- launch that’s drawing attention in the Hawkeye State.The shuttle Atlantis is slated for liftoff in March and NASA confirms an Iowa native will be at the helm. 38-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Jim Kelly is from Burlington and now lives in Houston. He’s assigned to pilot the shuttle on its 14-day mission, which will deliver a new crew, equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. It’s Kelly’s second flight into space; he piloted Discovery on a similar mission to the I-S-S in March of 2001. Another Iowan, Peggy Whitson, a native of Mount Ayr, just returned in December after 185 days aboard the space station.
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